As a suitable end to silly season, we sat through one of the most ridiculous films we have found in recent times. While we have to conclude that it was immensely silly, it was also quite fab!
Surakksha features the exploits of Agent Gopi aka Gunmaster G9, (Mithun Chakraborty) a Bond inspired character with a memorable theme song.
There is a plot, but it hardly seems relevant as the director/producer Raveekant Nagaich and writer Ramesh Pant seem to take their favourite scenes from a number of Bond movies (as well as a few other classics) and string them together in no particular sequence. These random episodes are glued together with some outlandish effects (more on those later) and usually showcase Mithun in the tightest whitest flares he can squeeze himself into.
While we’re talking about the pants, they did inspire some lengthy discussion. Not only are they incredibly tight, they also have the largest bell bottoms we have seen. Surely this must make sneaking into buildings, cemeteries, warehouses and various other assorted locations difficult – not to mention the problems caused when dancing on the beach. And we suspect a constant flapping noise from the enormous flares would have undermined his attempts at stealth, even if the yards of fabric remained unseen. However Mithun seems unconcerned by this choice of clothing, while we feel it may explain some of the dance moves. Or then again, maybe not. We concluded that Amitabh is a man who can wear tight white flares and actually carry them off. Mithun can’t.
In fact, generally the outfits were rather wonderful with an abundance of pleather in various shades and some nifty pantsuits. We owe this bounty to Bhanu Athaiya and their team! Mithun also seems to be either waxed to within an inch of his life, or perhaps is just not a particularly hairy man. For whatever reason he really was quite shiny in his (fairly frequent) shirtless scenes. Since we didn’t have to keep track of the plot (the writers hadn’t so why would we?), we had time for this philosophical pondering.
Other highlights of the film are the amazing leaping animals and their sound effects. Who knew that sharks can both sound like dolphins and growl (well OK, other than anyone who has seen Chatrapathi) as they leap from the water in search of their prey. There is also a diminutive snake that manages to make impressively athletic lunges at Mithun as he ably fends it off with a dish lid. Sadly the snake doesn’t growl, but does manage to leave considerable damage in the plasterboard thanks to its amazing leaping skills and velocity. It was sad to see the snake dispatched by means of a pillow and a toilet – that snake deserved better than being flushed.
We don’t think ‘enjoyed’ is the right word to describe our reaction, but the nightclub dance number featuring Aruna Irani and some fabulous decor is very memorable.
Overall the effects are spectacularly bad with any number of toy cars and trucks being employed to demonstrate the amazing properties of Gunmaster G9’s chosen mode of transport, the talents of the design team and the effects of combustion.
Although G9’s car is small, and rather impractical considering the number of women he attempts to fit in at the beginning of the film, it does boast the usual accoutrements essential for any spy about town. There are pop-up guns, a device to pour oil on the road, one to squirt soapy water on a pursuers windscreen, and of course a parachute for those moments when you find yourself driving off the edge of a cliff because you haven’t been looking where you are going. Doctor Who fans will also be delighted by the appearance of what looks like a sonic screwdriver (but sounds like a jackhammer), a particularly useful device if you find yourself interred in a polystyrene grave.
There were also a couple of toy boats that looked Significant, but we never did learn their fate as we had a few technical difficulties. Despite the best efforts of the DVD player and computer to spare us the full film, we managed to soldier on. With two copies of the DVD and Temple’s technical skills we were not going to be beaten by some inanimate electronic equipment! The copies we had also suffered from being a VCD with no subtitles, but as we mentioned, the plot really didn’t seem to be the point of this film anyway. It did lead us to discover that Mithun mumbles – he was really very hard to make out, while the other actors were much clearer although still never really made any sense.
Iftekhar plays the head of the organisation Mithun works for and checks in periodically to see what his spy is up to; generally warning him to stay away from women, and fretting when he doesn’t call on time. Mithun’s love interest is ably played by Ranjeeta Kaur who does a good job of keeping a straight face throughout the more bizarre of Mithun’s dance moves. At times we did wonder what the choreographer’s direction could possibly have been!
The story involves the hunt for G9’s colleague, Jackson, kidnapped by the nefarious Hiralal (Jeevan obviously enjoying himself as the villain and bearing a resemblance to Dick Dastardly in this screencap) and his glamorous sidekick Neelam (Mala Jaggi). These two are mere lackeys of the real bad guy – the mad scientist Dr Shiva (?) who lives in an underwater lair seemingly surrounded by giant goldfish. The lair is very well appointed, complete with a robot controlled by the buttons on Dr Shiva’s metal hand and amazingly ineffectual female guards armed with red plastic guns (or hairdryers).
To ensure everyone turns up for the final showdown, Jackson’s wife and son have been kidnapped along with Mithun’s trusty sidekick Kabari (Jagdeep as the comedy relief). We have yet more action as air ducts are explored (children do have their uses) and crutches are reassembled into a ‘machine gun’ (hello Day of the Jackal!) – although it looked much more like a shotgun to us but what do we know. We are not the Gunmaster G9. Like any well schooled villain Dr Shiva pontificates about his plans for world domination using his death ray thingy that appears to be able to cause gigantic waves. Or something. It really doesn’t matter because we know that Gunmaster G9 will save the day, get the woman and exasperate his boss.
Everyone spends a really long time explaining their secret plans to anyone who will listen, before a dance off between G9 and Hiralal to settle the question of…well, we don’t know for sure, but we do know Jeevan lost. Mithun then has to fight several champions in several fighting styles (hello Bruce Lee!) although no one seemed particularly committed to the biffo.
The music is by Bappi Lahiri and is really quite terrible although often unforgettable as we tried to work out which song he had copied so badly. This was such a terrible film we have decided we absolutely must have a better copy with subtitles to really be able to get the full effect and to fully appreciate our favourites, the snake and the shark. And we both love a good lair and a death ray thingy contraption:
Temple says: I can’t think how I have gone so long without seeing this. Really – it has everything and more, and yet sort of adds up to so much less. I love the film makers determination to make a Bond film with no Bond, no budget and no idea how to replicate the style, and it really is very entertaining. I am a fan of Bond, and could happily pick out scenes lifted from Goldfinger, You Only Live Twice and Live and Let Die to name a few. Heather had to put up with me cheerfully predicting what was to happen and I have to give this to Ramesh Pant – he knows his Bond too. Iftekhar was excellent as the equivalent of M and Jeevan excelled as the evil flunky. There is something delightfully optimistic about a death ray thingy made mostly from tin foil and tupperware and that just makes me happy. Unfortunately the VCD we had didn’t allow for good screencaps so we can’t show you the real magnificence of the set design and the ‘special’ effects. I think you’ll just have to watch this for yourself! 3 stars from me, maybe 3 and 1/2 if I’d had a glass or several of wine.
Heather says: This was a fabulous fun film for all the best reasons. There were super sets and seventies decor, amazing outfits, dreadful choreography and the worst special effects I have seen for a very long time. I really loved some of the lights and lamps, and at one point there were exactly the same tiles as my parents had in their bathroom back in the seventies – just fab! I’m not such a big Bond fan as Temple – I do like the movies but the last time I watched most of them was years ago – but to me, apart from the lack of cocktails, this film had every bit of 007 squeezed in. A bit like Mithun and those pants – no more could possibly fit! There were time bombs, listening devices, a machine that spat out strips of paper for no apparent reason and of course the end-of-the-world-death-ray-wave-maker machine. This film really deserves no stars whatsoever – it actually is that bad, but I give it 4 stars for the whole experience. One to watch with friends who can appreciate the finer details!